Ghanshyam Das Birla

Ghanshyam Das Birla popularly known as G.D Birla was an Indian businessman and member of the Birla Family.

Updated: July 14, 2022

Ghanshyam Das Birla popularly known as G.D Birla was an Indian businessman and member of the Birla Family. He was born on 10th April 1894 and died on 7th June 1983.


Childhood of Ghanshyam Das Birla:

Ghanshyam Das Birla was born on 10 April 1894 at Pilani village, in the Indian state then known as Rajputana, as a member of the Maheshwari Marwari community. His father was Raja Baldevdas Birla. In 1884 A.D. Baldeo Das Birla went to Bombay in search of new avenues of trade. He established his firm Shiv Narian Baldeo Das in Bombay in 1884 and Baldeo Das Jugal Kishore in 1897 in Calcutta. The firms started business in silver, cotton, grain and other commodities. He was succeeded by 4 sons, Jugal Kishore, Rameshwar Das, Ghanshyam Das and Braj Mohan. Ghanshyam Das was the most successful of the four brothers.


Some facts about Ghanshyam Das Birla:

  • Ghanshyam Das Birla inherited his family business and moved to further diversify them into other areas. So he left for Calcutta in Bengal Presidency, the world's largest jute producing region. There, he began "independently as a jute broker".
  • In 1918, he established Birla Jute Mills, much to the consternation of established European merchants, whom the biased policies of the British government favoured other than the local Bengali merchants.
  • He had to scale a number of obstacles as the British and Scottish merchants tried to shut his business by unethical and monopolistic methods, but he was able to persevere. When World War I resulted in supply problems throughout the British Empire, Birla's business skyrocketed.
  • With an investment of ?5 million in 1919, the Birla Brothers Limited was formed. A mill was set up in Gwalior in the same year.
  • In 1926, he was elected to the Central Legislative Assembly of British India.
  • He became the founding president of Harijan Sevak Sangh founded by Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi in 1932 .
  • In the 1940s, he ventured into the territory of cars and established Hindustan Motors.
  • After independence, Birla invested in tea and textiles through a series of acquisitions of erstwhile European companies.
  • He also expanded and diversified into cement, chemicals, rayon and steel tubes.
  • Ghanshyam Das Birla during the Quit India Movement of 1942, had conceived the idea of organising a commercial bank with Indian capital and management, and the United Commercial Bank Limited was incorporated to give shape to that idea.
  • UCO Bank, formerly United Commercial Bank, established in 1943 in Kolkata, is one of the oldest and major commercial bank of India.
  • Birla founded the Birla Engineering College (rechristened as Birla Institute of Technology and Science in 1964) in Pilani and the Technological Institute of Textile & Sciences in Bhiwani among other educational institutions in 1943.
  • Now Pilani also houses Birla Public School, a famous residential public school named after Birla's family and a number of polytechnic colleges.
  • TIT&S also evolved as the Center of Excellence in Textile based education and training.
  • The G D Birla Memorial School, Ranikhet, a premier residential school has also been established in his honour by his son B.K. Birla and is today one of the best residential schools in the nation.
  • The Birla School in Kalyan, India was founded by his efforts with the collaboration of Kalyan Citizens' Education Society (KCES).
  • In 1957, he was awarded India's second highest civilian honour, the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India.
  • There is a memorial to Ghanshyam Birla in Golders Green Crematorium, Hoop Lane, London. It comprises a large statue overlooking the gardens with an inscription.
  • Ghanshyam Das Birla was a close associate and a steady supporter of Mahatma Gandhi, whom he met for the first time in 1916.
  • Gandhi stayed at Birla's home in New Delhi during the last four months of his life.
  • Ghanshyam Das Birla died in 1983 at the age of 89.


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